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The army of faithful

The army of faithful

Author: George Iype
Publication: Rediff on Net
Date: July 14, 2000

The most extreme militant outfit that has spread its tentacles from Kashmir to Kanyakumari is the Lashkar-e-Toiba or "the army of faithful." The LeT has trained hundreds of Muslim youths in Pakistan and the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The military wing of Pakistan's religious university, the Dawat-ul-Irshad, it was founded by Professor Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.

Dawat-ul-Irshad has 500 offices in Pakistan, 40 teachers and around 800 students, who are between eight and 20 years of age. They are taught to propagate Islam, embrace militancy and prepare for jihad.

During a three-day annual congregation of LeT members at Muridke near Lahore last September, Saeed had proclaimed that the organisation's campaign in Hyderabad and Junagadh were among its highest priorities.

LeT's supreme ideologue Abdul Rahman Makki went a step ahead and announced that the outfit had opened a new unit in Hyderabad to liberate the Indian city from what he called "un-Islamic Indian rule."

The Hyderabad police have arrested a number of ISI agents who work for the LeT. All over India, 45 ISI cells have been smashed and 161 activists arrested in the past five years.

In September 1998, the police arrested three Pakistani agents -- Mohammed Saleem Junaid, Mohammed Shafiq and Farooq Ahmed. They belonged to the LeT. Thirteen of their supporters, most of them Hyderabadi boys, were also picked up. They were planning serial bomb blasts in Hyderabad on the Ganesh Chathurti day.

Since then, there has been no major LeT activity in the city. But the police say there are a number of "resident agents" at large.

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